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Business Analysis & Features

Spotlight on: Ken McMeikan, Chief executive, Greggs

The 'pasty tax' champion?

Yes, indeed. Mr McMeikan played a key role in forcing the Government to abandon plans unveiled in the Budget to introduce a punitive 20 per cent VAT on hot pasties and sausage rolls.

What's his next trick?

Actually, it's heading for the exit after four years at the bakery chain. He revealed yesterday that he is to join Brakes, the private equity-backed food service group that supplies pubs, restaurants, hotels, schools and hospitals.

Too hot in the kitchen, then?

Not really. Mr McMeikan is an experienced executive who cut his teeth in the UK grocery market with stints at Tesco and Sainsbury's. Before that he joined the Royal Navy when he was 16.

Did he see any action?

Apparently a little, as he was sent to the Falkland Islands towards the end of the war in the early 1980s.

Still, a bit different to food service

I'll say. But Brakes is a big beast with turnover of more than £2.6bn and more than 10,000 employees.

Who is it owned by?

Bain Capital, the private equity firm, acquired Brakes for £877m in 2007. Mitt Romney used to be one of its executive luminaries. He made a few bob in his time at Bain before departing in the late 1990s.

Mr McMeikan's going after the money then?

We couldn't possibly say, but it's a fair bet that a sale or float by Bain at some point in the future could deliver handsome returns for all of its directors. He was paid £664,000 last year at Greggs, which some fat-cats might consider modest.

And what about Greggs?

Sales are down a bit, but Mr McMeikan leaves behind a strong legacy, expanding the chain to more than 1,600 shops and adding croissants, pain au chocolat and porridge to its breakfast menu.

Anything else?

Well, don't expect him to be on Chancellor George Osborne's Christmas card list after the pasty tax battle.